Bradford spent the entire offseason preparing to be the Eagles’ starting quarterback, but a trade to the Vikings eight days before regular-season opener gives the Vikings additional information about how the Eagles operate offensively and what their rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz, likes.
“Most definitely we’re going to pick (Bradford’s) brain about it. I’m sure they’re going to try to change some things up, because he was their starter. He was supposed to be their starter from Week 1, until the trade happened, so we’re definitely going to ask him,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. “But at the same time we’re just going to focus on our keys and go out there and compete.”
It’s a trade that has seemed to work out well for all involved. Bradford has filled a pressing need for the Vikings after Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with an Aug. 30 knee injury. Bradford got his stated offseason wish to get out of Philadelphia after they drafted Wentz. And Wentz has performed very well for the Eagles as a rookie.
Bradford is second in the NFL with a 109.8 passer rating, but Wentz is eighth at 99.9 and has thrown only one interception against seven touchdowns. Bradford has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions, making the Vikings only the second team in NFL history to start a season 5-0 without throwing an interception.
As the Vikings returned to practice on Monday following their bye week, a film session was among the things on the agenda. A closer look at Wentz provided some surprises for at least one defender.
“He gets the ball out quick, he’s efficient and he’s a good athlete. I didn’t realize that about him,” linebacker Anthony Barr said. “He can move real good so it’s going to be to be a challenge for us but I think we’ll be up to it.”
The Eagles have the 12th-ranked offense in the NFL – 10th in rushing and 20th in passing – but while their system under new head coach Doug Pederson is new this year, Bradford spent the entire offseason preparing as if he was going to be the Eagles’ starter.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he could get a better understanding of the Eagles defense, as well, from Bradford after the quarterback practiced against them this summer. But the Vikings coaching staff will also lean on Bradford for help with a deeper understanding of the offense that intense film study might not show.
“Obviously, we’re going to ask him. I think all that stuff is really overrated. I think we have to execute what we do,” Zimmer said. “Some games we get signals from other teams and things like that and a lot of guys don’t play good when they know that stuff. We typically kind of just play and do what we do and don’t worry too much about the other team. Obviously we’re always going to look for tips and how we can help the players. A lot of players play better when they focus on their keys and focus on the things that they do.”
Munnerlyn knows the Eagles are likely to switch up some things against the Vikings because of Bradford’s knowledge of them, and he agreed with Zimmer that are some dangers in knowing too much.
“Oh, yeah, there’s definitely a little danger, but at the same time, it’s one week. It’s hard to try to install a whole new offense,” Munnerlyn said. “So it’s definitely one week, but at the same time we’ve got to just read our keys. We can’t worry about what they do. Coach Zim calls the coverage, and we’ve got to go out and play the coverage. We’ve got to execute. So that’s something we’ve got to focus on doing.”
Munnerlyn said Wentz’s toughness and ability to make all the throws stood out to him, saying he has a “live arm.”
For Zimmer, it’s the mental side of the Wentz’s game that has stood out.
“It seems like he understands where the ball is going quickly. He has done a nice job of avoiding pressure in the pocket and using his athletic ability, and he has got a great arm,” Zimmer said. “He looks very accurate to me. He has got a great deep ball. So, he has been impressive.”
- Zimmer called Isame Faciane’s arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence “disappointing.” The practice squad offensive lineman was arrested last week during the team’s bye week and wasn’t practicing with the team on Monday. “It’s disappointing and that’s one of the things that I’m trying to get rid of around here. Making sure that our fans are being represented in the right way,” Zimmer said. “It was stupid and we’ll see (about his future with the team).”
- While noting that he hadn’t seen the practice footage of Jake Long from Monday before speaking with the media, Zimmer said Long seems to be picking up the offense pretty quickly. A decision on Long’s playing time could be made by Friday, but during the open portion of practice to the media Long had not supplanted T.J. Clemmings in the starting lineup. “Jake’s a smart guy. He has been with [offensive line coach) Tony (Sparano) before, so all those things kind of help,” Zimmer said. “It’s probably not as hard as being the quarterback and coming in.”